Life after rahul dravid

Skipper Dhoni says Dravid timed his retirement perfectly and it’s now upto the youngsters to carry forward his legacy
Amit Gupta
Posted On Sunday, March 11, 2012 at 02:22:25 AM
Irfan Pathan, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli arrive at the airport in Mumbai on Saturday morning to depart for Dhaka for the Asia Cup
IN DHAKA: On Saturday, as the shuttle bus at the Mumbai airport filled up, Mahendra Singh Dhoni made a dash towards it ignoring the warning from the attendant that the bus was full. The wounds of the horrendous tour of Australia are still fresh and he’s now leading the side in Bangladesh for the tenth edition of the Asia Cup where they square up against the hosts, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in a bid to save the crown they won in 2010.
There is no time for the healing process. On Friday he had his most trusted Test batsman hang his boots. On one hand he is sad but on the other he is ready to look at the future. As Dhoni spoke about Dravid, both the sense of loss and his desire to move on was evident.

“Jam was a great character to have in the team. He loved challenges that were thrown at him throughout his career, whether it was opening the innings or keeping wickets. He has made a glorious contribution to Indian cricket. Dravid gave it a long thought before deciding to quit because the next Test series we play is some six months away. We will miss the strengths he brought to the team.

“It’s not even advisable to think that a player like him would be replaced. Youngsters will put themselves under tremendous pressure if they start to think about doing what he did.”

But after nudging him a little on the life beyond Dravid, one got an insight into a mind that is constantly thinking. He told Mirror, “He announced his decision yesterday but I knew about it a bit earlier. I haven’t got much time to think about it as we have the Asia Cup to take care of. There is little doubt that he would have found a place in the team when India play their next series and gone on to play the full season till March next year. 

“But he has timed the call to hang his bat very nicely. Now the youngster who gets into the team will have chances to play on Indian soil and ease himself into international cricket. I am definitely not saying that it’s easy to get runs in India but it’s totally different when a youngster has to go abroad and make his debut. It will help if the youngster has some runs under his belt when he visits oversees as confidence matters a lot.”

Dhoni who himself is under severe criticism for being unimaginative in Australia realises it won’t be easy to move into Dravid’s role and warned the young players who would be looking to do that, “Anyone who comes in should not think about replacing seniors like Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman or Sourav Ganguly. Once any of them goes, a youngster gets a chance to become a hero for the Indian team. 

Already there are name which are doing the rounds to replace Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman (as and when the two retire). Suresh Raina has had limited success but has been exposed in testing conditions. Rohit Sharma has flattered to deceive, Cheteshwar Pujara has struggled with injuries and the likes of Ajinkaya Rahane and Manoj Tiwary have been waiting in the wings. 

The big question is how many chances will they get to prove themselves. Dhoni provided some perspective when he said, “You see one can’t say that we will give a particular number of matches to a youngsters to show if he belongs to the big stage. A lot of it, how much a player gets to play, also depends on the team’s form. If the team is doing well a non-performing youngster might get seven-ten games but if team is doing badly he might get only three games.

“It’s a fine balance that the team management has to maintain and that’s not easy.” But that’s certainly the task he and selectors will have to perform in the coming future.

PS: In the twelve odd minutes that Dhoni addressed the media, there was not a single question on Sachin Tendulkar’s impending 100th international